Princeton Times

News

November 2, 2012

Sandy creates need for blood, funds to help storm victims

PRINCETON — Little remains of Hurricane Sandy but the devastation she left behind. With millions of Americans in 16 states affected, the Red Cross estimates Sandy’s victims will need weeks, or even months, to put lives, homes and hopes back together.

Though we missed the brunt of the storm, thousands of West Virginians still lost electricity, heat, food and days of work due to the storm that threatened a blizzard over much of the Mountain State.

“Basically, our biggest needs right now are blood donations and financial assistance. There have been hundreds of blood drives that have been canceled because of the storm, all up and down the East Coast. That means we’ve lost in excess of 10,000 units of blood products,” Katie Bender, of the American Red Cross, reported Thursday, as she headed toward the northern part of the state in I-79. “If anyone is eligible and able to donate, we would love for them to stop by any one of the hundreds of blood drives scheduled weekly to donate blood. And, of course, financial donations are always helpful, because all of the Red Cross’s disaster-relief efforts are provided free of charge to the people in need of assistance.”

•••

Locally, Red Cross East River Mountain Chapter Director Phyllis Sheets said the biggest need has been for kerosene to replace electrical heat knocked out when power service ceased.

“We’ve opened shelters, but the people haven’t taken advantage of them. They’ve been asking for the kerosene so they can stay home and stay warm,” Sheets said.

She praised efforts of the Princeton and Bluefield Salvation Army citadels and the Bluefield Union Mission, who stepped up work alongside the Red Cross to ensure southern West Virginians had safe places and enough food to weather Hurricane Sandy.

According to Appalachian Power statistics, more than 70,000 customers in West Virginia and an additional 7,000 customers remained without electricity Thursday morning, due to Hurricane Sandy.

Outage reports indicated there were more than 2,300 individual outages, or trouble cases, that required attention by one of Appalachian Power’s crews, or those who joined the effort from outside areas.

Of the 50 substations that were taken out of service during the storm, 14 remained inoperable Thursday morning. Most of those were expected to be restored by late Thursday.

Locally, estimates indicated 90 percent of the electrical service would be restored by Friday night, but Kanawha County residents might not see restoration until Sunday night.

•••

Princeton Salvation Army Lt. Mike Michels reported that his crews were on standby to open an emergency shelter, but the need never arose during this emergency.

Like Sheets, however, the Princeton Salvation Army worked to meet the needs they heard.

“The only thing that was kind of interesting was that, with school canceled, people who send their kids off to school for lunch all of a sudden realized they didn’t have any food available to feed their kids during the day. They had enough food for dinner, but maybe not for breakfast or lunch, so we had a few people come in requesting assistance with food, and we helped them the best we could.”

While he is happy to lend a helping hand and a care package, the effort has taken a toll on the Salvation Army’s food pantry, just as the group gears up for the holiday season.

“Our food pantry is just about empty, so we can always use more food, and financial donations and are always helpful,” he said.

For information on how to help the Princeton Salvation Army, call 304-425-2971, or visit the Praise and Worship Center on Princeton Avenue.

To provide monetary donations to the national efforts, the Salvation Army Charleston Area Commander Capt. Aaron Goldfarb reported, “The Salvation Army asks people who want to help those affected by this disaster to visit www.salvationarmy usa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).  Donors may also contribute $10 via their phone bill by text messaging the word STORM to 80888, and confirming the donation with the word, ‘Yes.’”

•••

Likewise, monetary donations may be made to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy.

“The website can actually detect your ZIP code, and if the donor lives in West Virginia, their contribution will stay in West Virginia,” Bender said. “Ninety-one cents of every dollar donated to the American Red Cross goes directly to relief efforts.”

— Contact Tammie Toler at ttoler@ptonline.net.

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